Monday, April 05, 2010

My 50 Favorite Films of the Last Decade

It took me a fair amount of time to decide on what 50 films from 2000 to 2009 most excited, intrigued, or impressed me. Some have simply stuck to my memory regardless of overall quality. This is not my list of "Best Pictures" of the last decade. These are instead films that I treasure for many different reasons and that I wouldn't mind watching over and over. This list, my first of its nature, is very important for me, since the cinephile in me was awakened only in 2001, twenty years after my birth and having been at best a casual moviegoer.

Here are #s 50-41:

50. Infernal Affairs (2002)

Directors: Wai-keung Lau, Alan Mak
Writers: Alan Mak, Felix Chong
Cast: Andy Lau, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Sammi Cheng

The movie that directly inspired Martin Scorsese's Oscar-winning The Departed. A masterful film, perhaps Hong Kong's finest in the last decade.

49. Dancer in the Dark (2000)

Director: Lars von Trier
Writer: Lars von Trier
Cast: Bjork, Catherine Deneuve, David Morse, Peter Stormare

What a performance from Bjork! Raw, innocent, powerful. The film itself scars and wounds, especially in the last few sequences, and it leaves an indelible mark.

48. Bayaning Third World (2000)

Director: Mike de Leon
Writers: Clodualdo del Mundo, Jr., Mike de Leon
Cast: Joel Torre, Ricky Davao, Cris Villanueva

Of the many Filipino films about national hero Jose Rizal, this is easily the most imaginative. Surreal, bizarre, sometimes bordering on absurd, but never anything less than genius. Mike de Leon, a major player in Philippine cinema's second Golden Age (the 1970s), proves he still has it.

47. Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros (2005)

Director: Auraeus Solito
Writer: Michiko Yamamoto
Cast: Nathan Lopez, Soliman Cruz, JR Valentin, Neil Ryan Sese, Ping Medina

The Filipino indie scene is now dominated by gay films, but before that deluge of mostly derivative, exploitative drivel, this true gem of the digital movement impressed viewers here and abroad, even getting a Spirit Award nomination for Foreign Language Film. A very refreshing take on the homosexual Filipino adolescent, in that his very macho father and older brothers love him dearly and dote on him.

46. WALL-E (2008)

Director: Andrew Stanton
Writers: Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, Jim Reardon

Brilliant piece of animation and science fiction. Having a silent robot with emotions as the lead character goes a long way.

45. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

Director: Alfonso Cuaron
Writer: Steve Kloves, based on the novel by J.K. Rowling
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson

This is easily the best in the series. Cuaron's little touches elevate this to a very good fantasy piece. And the three actors are at their best here.

44. Sideways (2004)

Director: Alexander Payne
Writers: Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor, based on the novel by Rex Pickett
Cast: Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen, Sandra Oh

This film is so smooth and effortless in the way it captures the audience's emotion that it latches on and doesn't let go. I cannot forget the amazement I felt at Paul Giamatti's brilliance...and my vexation at his not having been nominated for an Oscar.

43. Enchanted (2007)

Director: Kevin Lima
Writer: Bill Kelly
Cast: Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marden, Timothy Spall, Idina Menzel, Susan Sarandon

Amy Adams is aces as a Disney princess transported to modern-day New York in this very memorable and highly entertaining film. The songs are contagious, and James Marden plays a hilarious Prince.

42. Doubt (2008)

Director: John Patrick Shanley
Writer: John Patrick Shanley, based on his play
Cast: Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Viola Davis

Just writing that cast list has me thinking back to this powerful film. It's a good story and a well-crafted movie, but it's the cast that got me. All four, including the immortal Meryl Streep, at their finest. What more can you ask for?

41. In Bruges (2008)

Director: Martin McDonagh
Writer: Martin McDonagh
Cast: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes

This film had me simultaneously in stitches, frightened of Ralph Fiennes, falling in love with Bruges which I had not heard of prior to watching this, and thinking how fantastic an actor Colin Farrell is. He should have been nominated for an Oscar.

Numbers 40-39 soon.


Andrew R. said...

I finally finished up my Top 100 list. A few notes on it:
1. IT'S ALPHABETICAL, NOT RANKED! It gave me a headache trying to rank them. But I will post my BTO Best Picture Winners for each year so you get an outline of my top films:
2000: Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
2001: Moulin Rouge!
2002: Spirited Away
2003: Lord of the Rings: ROTK
2004: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
2005: Brokeback Mountain
2006: Little Miss Sunshine
2007: No Country for Old Men
2008: Dark Knight
2009: Hurt Locker
2. No documentaries. It's too difficult to categorize them. But I did enjoy several, they're just not here.
3. Sequels are grouped together with originals...sort of. (Spidermans 1&2 make the list, Spiderman 3 is ignored.)

This comment is long, so I'll post the first 20 films immeadiatly in the next post.

Andrew R. said...

OK, here goes:
1. AI Artificial Intelligence-for being a great adaptation of Kubrick's project by Spielberg. For showing Haley Joel Osment is a great child actor and having a cool teddy bear.
2. Amelie-for being a sweet story with childlike innocence. I kept expecting something sad to happen, but it didn't. How this lost Best Foreign Film is beyond me.
3. American Psycho-for not being a disposable serial killer film, having a GREAT Christian Bale performance, and for dropping a chainsaw on a whore. Nice.
4. Amores Perros-for being the 2nd best foreign film of 2000 behind CTHD, for making me wish I had a dog even more, and for connecting the stories well.
5. Atonement-for making Saorsise Ronan a star, for displaying Knightley's acting ability, and for being a truly interesting tale.
6. Aviator-for giving us another great partnership between Scorsese and Leo, for capturing Howard Hughes very well, and for giving Blanchett her Oscar.
7. Battle Royale-for being the 3rd best foreign film of 2000, for being Tarantino's favorite film since 1992, and for being actiony and thoughtful.
8. Borat-For being ROFLMAO hilarious, and for having a bear in an ice cream truck.
9. Bourne Trilogy-for being a consistently great series with Matt Damon's best acting jobs.
10. Brokeback Mountain-for being an amazing love story. Crash? Really?
11. Casino Royale-for being one of the three great Bond films.
12. Chicago-for being a truly glitzy, glamourous musical and for giving Zeta-Jones her Oscar.
13. Chicken Run-for being a great piece of claymation.
14. Children of Men-for being a scary, shocking sci-fi film with amazing moments.
15. City of God-for being the Goodfellas of Brazil.
16. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon-for bringing martial arts back, and kicking ass while doing it. Those fight
17. Dancer in the Dark-for showing Bjork's acting chops, having a great soundtrack, and being a great story despite a truly sadistic ending.
18. Dark Knight-for giving us Heath Ledger's best performance (better than Brokeback!) and being one of the few truly amazing box-office smashes.
19. Death of Mr Lazerescu-For being a very good Romanian film with similar themes to another great one, 4 Months 3 Weeks 2 Days. (That will make the list too!)
20. The Departed-for finally giving Scorsese his Oscar, despite not being the best of 2006. Still great, though.